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The Real Winner Here

It snowed and iced and snowed again since we last talked, and the house is encrusted with icicles.  It’s a good thing Scott and I get along, because neither of us is at a loss for weaponry right now.iciclesCan you tell how overcast it is here?  The sky reminds me of something by Robert Frost:

It is late in an afternoon
More grey with snow to fall
Than white with fallen snow

Lovely, isn’t it?  More grey with snow to fall than white with fallen snow.  My favorite thing about this poem (called  “War Thoughts At Home”) is that Frost scribbled it inside a book in 1918.  Then he put the book away.  No one knew the poem existed until 2006, when a graduate student at the University of Virginia checked the book out from the rare books collection and discovered it.  Isn’t that great?  I went to the same school years before that kid, but I never went into the rare books room because you weren’t allowed to eat in there.

Speaking of food, here’s an update on the gingerbread contest Scott and I entered:  We lost.  Big-time.  Our building looked like a $20 tent next to this ginger replica of Downton Abbey.kates-welcome-to-downton 2Can you believe this thing?  It was made in Nova Scotia by a ballet teacher named Kate.  It has almost a hundred candy windows and probably a gingerbread dowager countess inside who says things like “Don’t be defeatist, dear.  It’s very middle class.”

We didn’t stand a chance but we raised votes for our shack anyway.  I voted from my computer and my phone, and then I joined my public library so I could vote from all their computers.  It wasn’t enough to win, but I have a library card now so I guess the real winner here is literacy.

SPEAKING OF LITERACY, I want to recommend a book.  It’s called A Visit From The Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.  You should read it because she writes sentences like this:

He had to find her.  But where?  Ted deliberated this question while downing three espressos in the hotel lobby, letting the caffeine and vodka greet in his brain like fighting fish.
She leaned toward him, her pale face close to Ted’s, sharp with expectation.  “Uncle Teddy,” she said, “what are you doing here?”
It was the question he’d been dreading, yet the answer slid from Ted like meat falling off a bone.
That night, when Rebecca and Cara-Ann were firmly asleep, Alex extracted himself from the porridgy warmth of their shared bed in its foam of mosquito netting and went into the living room/playroom/guest room/office.

And now I must run.  We’re driving to Virginia today, and it takes 13 hours for people who don’t stop along the way to buy used karaoke machines like I do.  But before I go, let me leave you some breakfast.panettoneYou know about panettone, right?  It’s that sweet holiday bread from Italy that you see in big boxes this time of year.  Each loaf has a paper lining, like a cupcake, which you peel back to reveal a fragrant, brioche-like bread flecked with raisins and little nubs of candied orange peel.

Apparently they eat panettone with mascarpone and sweet wine or amaretto in Italy.

We eat it as french toast.panettone french toastIt makes great french toast because it has fruit and flavor in it already.  When you start with panettone, you don’t have to make a compote or special syrup in order to make a fancy-pants breakfast.panettone french toast 2And since they wash panettone down with amaretto in Milan, you don’t have to feel bad about pouring amaretto into the french toast batter.toastIt just makes it more authentic, right?  They probably let you eat stuff like this in libraries all over Europe.

Panettone French Toast  {Download & Print Recipe}
by eggton

Ingredients: {Makes 3 large slices}

1 box panettone

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (optional)

1/4 c. half-and-half (you may substitute milk)

1 Tbsp. amaretto (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil, divided

Accompanied by: butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, mascarpone, or whipped cream as you wish.


Peel back the paper on the loaf of panettone.  With a serrated knife, cut three 1-inch thick slices of bread, being careful to run the knife under it so that it doesn’t stick to the paper underneath.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, half-and-half, amaretto, vanilla and eggs.  Whisk until the eggs are blended and there are no clumps of dry ingredients.  Pour the batter onto a plate with raised sides or pie tin.

Pour 2 Tbsp. of the oil into a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  While it heats up, dredge a piece of panettone in the batter for about 15 seconds.  Using a turner/spatula, flip it over and give the other side about 15 seconds to soak up some batter.  Transfer the bread to the hot pan with the turner.

Cook the bread (without disturbing it, so that you get a good sear on it) for a few minutes, until the underside is nicely browned.  Using a turner, flip the bread over and cook until the other side is similarly browned.  Repeat with the remaining two slices, adding the remaining oil to the pan for the third slice, if needed.  Serve with butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, mascarpone, or whipped cream as you wish.


thunder in snowSurveying the snow with cold disapproval.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Be careful of the icicles. We wouldn’t want you to get hurt. Have a safe trip. Sid was born in Beryville Virginia and remembers it fondly.

    December 22, 2013
    • I don’t think I’ve ever been to Berryville, so I just looked it up. It looks cute!

      December 22, 2013
  2. That book has been on my list- great choice of excerpts.
    And wow to be in the mind of the person putting together that palace when gingerbread houses had such humble beginnings. Insane patience or a construction crew? I’m out of the contest loop but am dying to find a minute to go catch up.
    Safe travels and bring more pannetone- looks like good Christmas morning nosh.
    Cheers… Wendy

    December 22, 2013
    • Wendy, the book is so, so good. I’m jealous that you haven’t read it yet. I wish I could go back and read it all over for the first time. My brother got me her other books for my birthday. I’m tempted to space them out through the year rather than read them all at once!

      January 3, 2014
  3. anyone who has time enough to make a castle like that clearly has too much spare time!! and impressed your panettone last long enough to cook with it… I eat it straight out the box, and can never believe how quickly it vanishes!!

    December 22, 2013
    • You know, I used to be scared of panettone. My mom’s side of the family (the Italian side) always had it lying around at the holidays, and I never quite knew what to make of it!

      January 3, 2014
  4. Downton freakin’ Abbey?! My gingerbread house is still in the flour and raw egg stage at the moment and I had high hopes of endowing it with a hexagonal cereal rooftop this year, but now… Downton freakin’ ABBEY?! I might as well go buy a kit from the store. Also, my cat would love Scott’s scene. Marshmallows are her faaaaaavorite. I made panettone this year for the first time. Pretty awesome and I actually planned to make french toast with it, but never would have thought to add amaretto! Holla! Have a safe trip to ol’ Virginny!

    December 22, 2013
  5. What delightful timing! I have a big loaf of pannetone, and I was just wondering how it would work as French toast. Thank you!

    Sorry about the gingerbread blowout. Scott’s disasterscape did hold an admirable charm.

    Also: I love that you quote poetry from time to time. And new Robert Frost–even better!

    Holiday love to you and yours.

    December 22, 2013
  6. ibreatheimhungry #

    “I guess the real winner here is literacy” – funniest line ever!!!! Have a great time and a safe trip!

    December 22, 2013
  7. Ha! That ginger-house-strosity was unbelievable, wasn’t it?! The only gingerbread structure I made this year, on the other hand, was a mini gingerbread layer cake that I ate before I finished building. So, there’s that. But ohmygod, this panettone French toast?! I’d eat a Downton Abbey castle made of that. Looks divine.

    December 22, 2013
  8. Laura G. #

    um, yes. i will be spending another xmas day in my own apartment and this looks like it would be a delicious treat, as well as perhaps the beginning of a beautiful xmas tradition. happy holidays!

    December 22, 2013
  9. Ah, a treasure trove of tastiness! I wouldn’t hang out anywhere I couldn’t eat either. And it looks like Thunders agrees. “13 hours in the car? As long as there’s kibbles.”

    December 23, 2013
  10. That is such a beautiful line: More grey with snow to fall than white with fallen snow. Gingerbread Abbey is amazing but literacy? Wow.

    December 23, 2013
  11. jenny_o #

    Thunder has just the right face for showing snow how stinky-wrong it is. I will remember that look when it snows here again, and try to channel it.

    Merry Christmas! Thank you for your lovely, funny posts all year!

    December 23, 2013
  12. First off: drive safely, and warmly, and the best of holiday wishes to you and scott and your whole family. 🙂
    LOVE the frost. and the Frost. equally. now you make me want to go read some more from the books i have. it’s about to get moody up in here.
    i ADORE the Jennifer Egan book! i read it either last summer or a little before that: it’s a wonderful book, and i love the style in which she writes. Such a gorgeous way she threads that particular book together; i like books which really demand you to pay attention to detail, and i feel that was one of those books.
    anyway, panettone french toast? now i’m angry i didn’t go ahead and buy a box when i saw it the other day in the store. Mr. Table is out retrieving all the other items i forgot, so i may add this to his list.

    December 24, 2013
  13. I have to agree with Thunder on this one 🙂

    December 27, 2013
  14. Everything up there is delicious,awesome and creative…way to go! 🙂

    January 3, 2014
  15. Last year at school we made about 4,000 panettone and I didn’t make French toast even once.

    I lose at breakfast like you guys do at Ginger.

    January 4, 2014
  16. Amy #

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE pannetone! I unfortunately never have enough leftover for french toast since I can easily down the whole cake myself once I open the package. Obviously I’ll have to buy two of them next year so that this can be on the menu 😉

    January 12, 2014

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